It’s all worthwhile

It’s only five (and a bit) days late, and it’s long since past Monday, so here’s some Saturday night sparkle with Mr David Bowie and Starman. 

It has been a tiring twelve days. Exam marking is one reason. I’m marking the November English paper and with 22 left to go, the end is just a day away. Two hours of marking and I’ll have finished. I hope. It’s always touch and go because every morning you have to log onto the system afresh and you have a little test to pass to make sure your marking is in line. That’s not easy with English, believe me. I was already in a fury by the time I logged on one day last week that I was inexplicably severe and it set me back a day or two.

How is it that you can start the day in a fury?

It has one word. People.

Do people walk in to restaurants and start a dialogue that goes a bit like this…

“You know the steak? I’d really like it, but can you make it from Kobe beef? I only want to pay five euros a kilo though.”

“Actually, you know that dirt cheap Kobe beef you just found me and you’re selling me as a complete favour? Can I change my mind? I’d quite like Guantanamo Bay lobster.”

“Thanks for air-freighting that lobster in at your own cost… could you do me a favour? Will you cut it up for me?”

“In fact… could you be a complete star and stick it in a blender? I’d like it in a glass with a straw.”

As my friend Julie says, people always want the moon on a stick.

There’s been lots of other project-y stuff I’ve been doing too, though mostly it has been a week of errands and meetings and fairs. It was the Dames de FER Christmas Foire last Sunday – and that was quite marvellous. It was a superb effort on behalf of Les Dames, the association of business women that I’m joint president of – and means a lot of ladies giving up a lot of time to decorate churches and make Christmas wreaths and the likes. By the time I got there, the cake stand rota had long been sorted, and I got to have a few hours of wandering around doing that rare thing called ‘chatting to people’. I don’t think anyone who’s not part of an organising committee for an event like that could ever understand just quite how much work goes in to it.

Monday was a brief hiatus because it was my friend Rachel’s baby shower. For some reason, she is completely against all the names I’ve suggested, and although the baby is due on my birthday, she won’t name it in my honour. I said she should call the baby Marie-France on account of us living in France, but she won’t have it either.

The worst part about the baby shower was that I’d planned a Japanese lesson before it and I had the Japanese version of ‘Heads and Shoulders’ stuck in my head. Nobody should have that happen. I shall be sad to finish my classes at the local primary school in December, though I have remembered just how much respect I have for primary school teachers. Primary school kids are like cats. None of them want to do the same thing at the same time. It really is like herding cats. I used to think the same about teaching teenagers, but that’s more like herding dogs. You’ve got to show them you’re not afraid and you know no fear, yet be respectful of their insecurities. Get them to pull in one direction and you can do an Iditarod with them. You can never do that with primary school children. There’s always one who wants to go to the toilet and one who’s asleep.

Tuesday also passed in a blur of meetings and lessons, exam papers and long phone calls asking me to put the moon on a stick. The trouble is that most people are unable to see the nuances between “Not a problem” and “Are you bloody kidding me? F@(k Off!” and unless you say the latter, they think you mean the former. Not only that, when you say the latter, because “Are you kidding? I’m not doing that!” isn’t strong enough and they think you mean, “Not a problem! Would you like fries with that?” they then get in a huff and think you’re a moody biatch.

Wednesdays are back-to-back lessons pretty much and mean getting up extra early when it’s marking season, so that I can take the dogs out at first light. I go right through eleven hours with an hour break at lunch time when generally my blood pressure goes through the ceiling as I start picking up messages and emails of the “and can I have the moon on a stick?” variety.

By the time I got to Friday, I was very glad to be at the refuge in among friendly faces and people who take the sting out of the moon-on-a-stick people. We were preparing for our “Animals’ Christmas” festivities today – marquees to put up, information sheets to put on enclosures and no end of tidying and tasks. By that point, I think I was running on pure adrenaline. There had been a full moon the night before and I’d left the bedroom shutters open, so I was awake at 5am wondering why everything was so bright and wondering if it was time to get up. It was a morning of meetings – thankfully, Amy and Louise never fail to revive my flagging spirits (and hype me up on coffee)

I’ve got kitten 23 and kitten 24 here as well (I can’t believe it’s been that many this year!) and they’re the most noisy, shouty, fighty, greedy kittens I’ve had yet. They wake up every hour, cry noisily until they are fed, then practically inhale three times more milk than they should be on before waddling about peeing on their bedding and crying some more. I’ve called them Tyson and Rocky since they fight with me every second I’m giving them their milk. Greedy and aggressive. Luckily they’re cute otherwise I’d have let Tobby lick them to death.

Anyway, if you’re very lucky, you might get the usual post on Monday. If not, my to do list has overwhelmed me. I’m only running six days behind on it! Day two of the refuge open days is running tomorrow and then – finally – I might get to breathe for a little while.


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